diberry - 4:25 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)
I do agree with the idea that Google arranges the SERPs in a way they feel will benefit them and their profits. Whether they believe they are delivering what users want and THAT is best for profits, or whether they have another agenda, I don't know.
I can't see how favoring brands would make Google more money. Stuffing brands down the page so they have to open up their big pockets and buy Adwords WOULD make Google more money.
I can't see how favoring localized results makes Google more money, but maybe I'm missing something there.
The only way I can see the SERPs improving Google's bottom line is if they boost Adwords/Adsense, and I think that's happening pretty transparently - more ads over the years, looking more and more like the organic results...
In the past, for every site that lost traffic from an update, another site gained. That's changed recently on many queries where one single site is given a ton of results in the first three pages. That means quite a few sites lost out and only one gained.
But unless Google's getting bribed by these brands to do that for them, I can't see how it makes more $$ for Google. And I think it would be cheaper for big brands to just buy Adsense than to bribe Google for top organic listings - especially when a competitor could just buy Adsense and top them anyway.